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Thread: Women in fencing

  1. #1

    Default Women in fencing

    Does anyone know why there are three fewer Junior Women selected than Junior Men for the Luxembourg Individual Epee Event?

    https://www.britishfencing.com/gbr-j...ns-luxembourg/

    I had a quick look through the junior selection policy and consultation responses. It doesn't seem to mention that gender is a valid reason for discretionary selection or de-selection. Nor does it exclude it from a discretionary selection criteria.

    Its an unfortunate day to announce the selections, 18th Oct 2018. The same day as a memorial service for Tessa Jowell who I believe made a number of representations to olympic committees and governments around the world that there should be no gender discrimination in sport and it shouldn't be tolerated.

    Any ideas why there are fewer Junior women selected?

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    Not sure if the link will work but the text is as follows:

    Following a review of the athlete depth in Junior Mens Epee, BF has decided to extend the number of athletes selected to 12 for Riga, Luxembourg and Heraklion

    https://www.britishfencing.com/jme-selection-notice/

    I also suspect that the use of the Champions Race in selections plays a part. But I donít understand that addition to the process so canít comment on that.

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    Chris Howser cesh_fencing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick E View Post
    I also suspect that the use of the Champions Race in selections plays a part. But I donít understand that addition to the process so canít comment on that.
    Possibly the fact that in the boys they have only gone down to 14th on the champions race with 12 fencers, whereas in the girls they have gone down to 18 for just 9 has been taken into account.


    Again just a guess.
    Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Fencing

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    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    Possibly the fact that in the boys they have only gone down to 14th on the champions race with 12 fencers, whereas in the girls they have gone down to 18 for just 9 has been taken into account.


    Again just a guess.
    That system works then. You have to love the ever changing exclusion criteria introduced year on year in the sport.

    Though as said, I really donít understand why there are two systems on ranking in one. Iím sure there is an eminently sensible reason.

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    Chris Howser cesh_fencing's Avatar
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    Nick - Cannot say I agree with the continuous changing in selection criteria, let alone the exclusion of so many fencers for selection.

    If however a fencer is way down the British rankings, they are likely to have an extremely negative experience at a Junior World Cup.
    Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Fencing

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick E View Post
    Not sure if the link will work but the text is as follows:

    Following a review of the athlete depth in Junior Mens Epee, BF has decided to extend the number of athletes selected to 12 for Riga, Luxembourg and Heraklion

    https://www.britishfencing.com/jme-selection-notice/

    I also suspect that the use of the Champions Race in selections plays a part. But I donít understand that addition to the process so canít comment on that.
    Thanks for the link

    When I look at the changes to the Riga selections (possibly the easiest way to observe athlete depth) I see that the athletes added have current rankings of 6, 13 and 23 (Champ rankings of 7, 16 and 14), anyway...

    Can anyone point me at a definition of athlete depth?

    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    Possibly the fact that in the boys they have only gone down to 14th on the champions race with 12 fencers, whereas in the girls they have gone down to 18 for just 9 has been taken into account.

    Again just a guess.
    I'm not sure that looking at the maximal champ ranking within the whole selection group is correct and it is perhaps even misleading. I guess it is possible to look at the rank of the 5th athlete selected by champ ranking.

    I believe the selection policy is that the highest 5 athletes based on the champs ranking are selected if they are eligible (age and a few other things, etc). Assuming that the 5 champ ranking athletes happens after the 3/6 have been selected from the rolling ranking if I look at Luxembourg.

    In JME the 5 selected based on champ ranking went down to a champ rankings of 12
    Had only 3 been selected from the rolling rankings the champ ranking of the 5th athlete selected this way would have been 7.

    In JWE the 5th athlete selected on champ ranking was 9 (not 18 as suggested - 18 is the maximal of the whole selection group).

    [as an aside: I am sure that some would argue that form is temporary class is permanent]

    So with 3 selected from rolling ranking the JME 5th athlete selected would have a champ ranking of 7 and the JWE is 9. I think most will say that is nothing really.

    Had 6 been selected by rolling rankings for JWE then the highest champ ranking (at a guess) to get up to 5 athletes is 13. The JME goes down to a ranking of 7 on the champ ranking. The minimum age of 17 is having a bigger impact on the womens champ rankings.
    So we have a difference between JME and JWE of 7 vs 13. but before we say its "athlete depth" as I mention above if you look at Riga the JME champ ranking went down to 16. The difference between 13 or 16 on the champ ranking is likely to not be significant and is perhaps not the right thing to be looking at.

    I think the maximal of the selection group is very misleading. If 5 are selected via the champ ranking then 5 are selected regardless as long as the other criteria age, etc. have been applied correctly.

    I would rather that athlete depth had a definition even if is was based on a statistical variance between the rolling rankings and champ rankings. Otherwise I think it can be argued that in fact the junior selection has 3 extra discretionary places as either 6 or 3 are selected from the Rolling Ranking (min international result required) and that this discretion does not preclude gender unless we have a quantitative definition of athlete depth. Trying to look at the champ ranking whether its the maximal of the whole selection group or even the 5 selected by the champ ranking is a diversion at best and at worst just misleading.

    So I will ask the question again.

    Any (other) ideas why there are fewer Junior women selected?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    Nick - Cannot say I agree with the continuous changing in selection criteria, let alone the exclusion of so many fencers for selection.

    If however a fencer is way down the British rankings, they are likely to have an extremely negative experience at a Junior World Cup.
    I absolutely agree Chris that sending fencers who are not on current form presents little value in attending JWC events. What I find odd is that you can be selected based on the Champions Race where this ranking may vary significantly from your actual rolling ranking. So one bad result in the wrong competition or a competition not attended due to illness and your season is over. The rolling rankings appeared to give a better consistency.

    There are some rather interesting and significant variations in JME and JWE when looking at a fencers standing in the Junior Rankings, the Champions Race, and the Senior Rankings.

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    Chris Howser cesh_fencing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick E View Post
    I absolutely agree Chris that sending fencers who are not on current form presents little value in attending JWC events. What I find odd is that you can be selected based on the Champions Race where this ranking may vary significantly from your actual rolling ranking. So one bad result in the wrong competition or a competition not attended due to illness and your season is over. The rolling rankings appeared to give a better consistency.
    I am not saying I agree with the selection policy fully, however

    The selection policy does give selection opportunity for someone who was ill or injured, as a selectors choice is there if someone misses events.

    If they have a poor result/do not attend in 1 of 3 events, they just need to get two really good results to make up for it.

    Using purely the rolling ranking can give selection for fencers who had a good result or two, 11 months ago, whereas using the Champions race does show current form, and I am presuming the idea is that BF wants those fencing at these events who are showing that best current form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick E View Post
    There are some rather interesting and significant variations in JME and JWE when looking at a fencers standing in the Junior Rankings, the Champions Race, and the Senior Rankings.
    There always has been 'interesting' variations between Junior & Senior rankings. Some under 20 fencers seem to be far more proficient at beating older slower seniors, rather than speedy Juniors. For fencing at U20 Internationals they need to be good at fencing quick fencers, so sometimes the senior rankings are slightly mis-leading, unless you have a Junior in the top 10 of senior rankings which shows they have been regularly beating the top quicker seniors.

    All in all, any selection system is going to have its positives and negatives, the main issue with this one was that it was so mis-understood at the start of the season, so many were not really aware of what they needed to do. I think the understanding is now there, but has occurred a bit too late.

    The main current issue is that whereas with the Men's Under 20 Champions Race, where only one cadet is in the top 17 and non-eligible for selection, the women's have 8 out of 17, which males things far more complicated and I suspect is the reason for the reduced numbers on the women's side, as having a cut off for selection at a certain number down the rankings is understandable.

    As I say I think I understand the thinking behind this, though am unsure whether I totally agree with them all.

    I do think ranking schemes should be far simpler, announced far in advance of the season starting and be pretty consistent year on year.
    Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Fencing

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    Senior Member ChrisHeaps's Avatar
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    I can't resist!

    I do have a fencer directly affected by the junior selection policy and so I want to join the discussion to give my view point but at the same time to be entirely respectful to BF, it's policies, staff, members, other parents, coaches and fencers. Phew!

    I'd like to give a different outlook on a couple of points that you make Chris on the circumstances that a fencer may find themselves in that have a bearing on their selection.

    Using purely the rolling ranking can give selection for fencers who had a good result or two, 11 months ago, whereas using the Champions race does show current form, and I am presuming the idea is that BF wants those fencing at these events who are showing that best current form.
    If it were a fencer who had a couple of good results last year and they were entirely out of the norm and they have since lost interest and would only go for a nice trip then ok. What if were a fencer for whom those results had been part of a progression and have continued to train hard and are fully committed to continuing their development. Is it right that they should have the carry over insurance removed that protects them in the case of a short term blip?

    Furthermore does a good result in an early domestic comp show form that will continue to be in place during the international matches a couple of months or more into the season?

    And here's the question. Is the surety of that current form continuing so much more reliable than the history of success of the fencer with a proven track record that the selection format should be skewed so much in favour of that possibility to the detriment of the other?

    If they have a poor result/do not attend in 1 of 3 events, they just need to get two really good results to make up for it.
    If only it were that easy. One of the comps is the Milner Barry with a field also consisting of the top seniors and anything can happen on the day. For example this year the current national senior champ knocked out in the 32.
    No one would question the senior champs quality, she's absolutely one of our best (and my club mate) but these things happen, c'est la epee . This comp is just four weeks after the first ranking comp and it's more than possible that the factors that are causing a short term blip in a fencers ranking could still be a factor over that period of time.

    Anyhow, I don't dislike the Champs race idea in principal.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    The main current issue is that whereas with the Men's Under 20 Champions Race, where only one cadet is in the top 17 and non-eligible for selection, the women's have 8 out of 17, which males things far more complicated and I suspect is the reason for the reduced numbers on the women's side, as having a cut off for selection at a certain number down the rankings is understandable.
    I assume the word you are looking for is "makes" rather then "males"? the "k" and "l" are rather close on the keyboard, anyway ...

    If you are looking at the top 17 on the rolling rankings. Then the age cut off is just age discrimination which may be justified in some sense - I haven't thought it through. But is clearly set out and applied to both genders equally in the policy.

    Interestingly in JME you have a range down to 54 on the champs ranking. Whereas with JWE you have a range down to 26 on the champs ... I think looking at the champ ranking this way or this far down the rolling rank list is just flawed.

    The champs ranking may be a good way to introduce new talent into the team. ie you would hope with a bit of consistency a persons rolling rank would tend towards their champ rank (if higher) or you get a turn around in form. (Lets be positive). I think the champs ranking means new talent is introduced into the selection sooner. Perhaps this should be celebrated.

    It may be better if we look at the 3 or 6 at the top of the rolling ranking which is part of the selection system and then work out the respective champs ranks in JME and JWE. In this case you see a much bigger range between the two categories. Going from 3 to 6 changes the selections at the top of the rolling rankings has a knock on with regards to the champ rank selection if they dont overlap too much but not much where the two rankings are compressed in narrow range. Which is what we are observing with the age cutoff also adding to the mix.

    This is all much easier if you have a definition of athletes depth. Call it visibility. Depth seems to be some concept that no-one seems able to quantify? Or they don't wish to because it allows for an extra three discretionary places to those with high rolling rank (4-6). Without the decision being able to be looked at in detail and justified.

    Interestingly I am used to the term depth and talent when talking about the talent on the bench. I am used to talking about the number of people on the bench available and capable of the work in question. The talent on the JME is compressed on both rolling and champ ranking. Whereas the JWE is not as compressed because a few at the top of the rolling ranking are not in tight band on the champs ranking. This is all fine in my view. It is what it is. But this seems counter to what is being argued about the cut off in the womens rankings and going too far down the rankings. The top 3 are the top 3 and the top 6 are the top 6 on the rolling ranks. I dont think too much can change this. The champs ranking is the champs ranking and selection range can be affected by those already selected by having high rolling rank and the age cutoff. I don't think its helpful to get too hung up on that and use that to justify not selecting the 4-6 on the rolling ranks. It is what it currently is.

    I am just curious if you can quantify the variance between the rolling rank and champ ranking and can it be used as the definition of athlete depth. So, if the JME was not compressed and JWE was compressed. ie if this were the other way round would we have the same selection policy and more women would be selected than men? I don't think you can know for sure without a clear definition.

    Without a definition of athlete depth you have no guarantee that this concept is not subject to gender discrimination at some point either now or at some point in the future. If you can't justify it in a quantifiable manner perhaps you really shouldn't do it until you can. Or apply the same selection criteria to both genders until such time as you as can.

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    Senior Member danKew's Avatar
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    Just to clear this up, to avoid any confusion, selections can only be made from the rolling rankings if a fencer has made a L64 in a JWC*. For the ladies, only 2 achieved that last year, so the remaining selections come from the Champions Race. That leaves just 35 eligible fencers. If places 10-12 were to be filled, they would come from positions 18-20 in the Champions Race ranking.

    * Not sure if a L64 at the Euros/Worlds counts as the selection doc 6.1.17 states "international ranking points from a L64 Junior World Cup (L32 in case of Women’s Foil Eden Cup) or better"

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    Out of interest what is the Champions Race?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith.A.Smith View Post
    Out of interest what is the Champions Race?
    Just a pseudonym for a normal seasonal non-rolling ranking.

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    Default athlete depth V athlete value

    I've read this thread with interest and I appreciate the ranking analyis but for me I feel this is about double standards and lack of clariy and transparency in the selection process.
    We are trying to retain women in sport and to challenge sexist assumptions:

    https://www.britishfencing.com/edito...14Gvxfi8GqvC7c

    https://www.womeninsport.org/researc...ond-30-report/

    As a mother of a female fencer I get tired of the comments 'fences like a girl', 'don't worry she'll give it up when she's 18!'

    For the three who missed out how must they feel, certainly not inspired or valued. I know one was devastated and her work rate and committment is exemplary. Fencing is a long game as I'm told - then lets build our female fencers up! But they don't have 'athlete depth?' - what does that even mean? Even the language is wrong, how do you quantify that?

    BF is not funding the athletes so why not give them an equal opportunity?

    Apologies as I have no well informed ranking know how - it's just from the heart!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith.A.Smith View Post
    Out of interest what is the Champions Race?
    It appears to be the current season ranking with no carry forward, however unlike for cadets where a % carry forward is used to inform the first selection of the season, this just relys on performance over the first five weeks of the season to shape the years selections - by the looks of it.

    Might be over simplifying something that appears overly complex.

    Then for JWE selection, as Chris points out, there are a good number of fencers in the top end of the selection criteria who are too young to be selected so that has come into play too.

    A small number of fencers with good results last year but who have not attended all three ranking events in Sept / early Oct will have missed out on selection this year as a result of the changes, which were not well understood.

    And then of course we seem to throw in this double standard around strength in depth by gender.

    It must be really hard trying to develop a robust training and development plan to take account of the annual selection fad in the sport. But thatís how itís been for several years now.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by danKew View Post
    Just to clear this up, to avoid any confusion, selections can only be made from the rolling rankings if a fencer has made a L64 in a JWC*. For the ladies, only 2 achieved that last year, so the remaining selections come from the Champions Race. That leaves just 35 eligible fencers. If places 10-12 were to be filled, they would come from positions 18-20 in the Champions Race ranking.

    * Not sure if a L64 at the Euros/Worlds counts as the selection doc 6.1.17 states "international ranking points from a L64 Junior World Cup (L32 in case of Women’s Foil Eden Cup) or better"
    Thanks for the clarification. The following questions are just to help with my understanding. Please I don't direct to you - or expect you (or indeed) anyone else to answer - unless you or anyone else really wants to.

    So, just for my understanding. What we are saying here is that the remaining selections cannot be filled via the champs ranking place if the persons ranking is more than 20. Is the ranking 20 or is it lower? And where in the selection policy did it say this? This rule does not apply to either the rolling rank places or the discretionary place or does it? Is the number related to some sort of ratio of the demographic? Which is what I have seen sometimes.

    I know there are some who think we shouldn't be selecting athletes from too low down on the ranking (either rolling or champs). Perhaps it would have been better if we had codified it. This rule could have been stated in the selection policy - i think its gender neutral. If its in there I apologies please point me at it.

    Before we settle on a number 20. We might want to think a bit about it. We wouldn't want people to think we are picking a number that happens to match the current women rankings but not the mens.

    My second set of questions is related to "athlete depth" and again just to help with my understanding. Is the rule around non-selection based on champ ranking being used to define "athlete depth"?

    So long as selecting the extra 3 places does not involve selecting an extra three athletes with a champ ranking of more than 20 then the extra three places can be made available.

    As per before.

    [I don't know when the number of places for the womens competitions was announced? Or if it was announced. Maybe there is a get out clause there?]

    Please point me at the definition of "athlete depth" or indeed where it talks about it in the policy document. I think the policy talks about "reserved" rights in increase. This I think is fine but I'm not sure its wise to talk about "athlete depth". Perhaps the announcement should just say under the reserved rights we are increasing blah blah blah. I assume that JME and JWE are defined as individual weapons somewhere? I don't know.

    As per before.

    I don't mind saying the following. It bring tears to my eyes when I read or think about some of the posts or posters here and some who are reading this. What worries me is the following: There seems to a culture of fear and secrecy about this. However, there are some things that need to be said no mater what.

    There is nothing that I see in what has happened here and is being allowed to happen that cannot be explained as gender discrimination. Unless of course "athlete depth" is explained. If there is an explanation or a definition please come forward (or DM me) and help in my understanding.

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Discretionary Selection Bad.
    ďLive a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.Ē

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    Chris Howser cesh_fencing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisHeaps View Post
    I'd like to give a different outlook on a couple of points that you make Chris on the circumstances that a fencer may find themselves in that have a bearing on their selection.
    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    I am not saying I agree with the selection policy fully,
    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    As I say I think I understand the thinking behind this, though am unsure whether I totally agree with them all.
    I think that some fencers missing out is very disappointing for them and looking back through their track-records can make it seem very tough, however other fencers have performed more consistently this season and would also be upset if being higher in the rankings were not selected.

    The drop from 12 to 9, is the contentious issue, which is something I can only guess on, but can understand the perceived logic to it.
    Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Fencing

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    Senior Member ChrisHeaps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    I think that some fencers missing out is very disappointing for them and looking back through their track-records can make it seem very tough, however other fencers have performed more consistently this season and would also be upset if being higher in the rankings were not selected.

    The drop from 12 to 9, is the contentious issue, which is something I can only guess on, but can understand the perceived logic to it.

    I'm certainly not suggesting that the rules be changed now mid season. No-one's going to lose their selection already gained and so no need for anyone to be upset. I was only musing on the circumstances that a fencer may find themselves in and how any selection policy in general that has a blend of carry over and new season results may address those factors.

    On the 12 to 9, the way I understand it is that it was always 9 and that 12 was a short term experiment for a season (or two, no sure on that period of time). It believe it was decided to go back to 9 for this season (sometime after the selection document had been published) but then it seems it was decided to increase to 12 for the boys only.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cesh_fencing View Post
    The drop from 12 to 9, is the contentious issue, which is something I can only guess on, but can understand the perceived logic to it.
    From what I can understand from the announcement on the 11th Oct the drop from 12 to 9 happened at some point before Riga for Riga, Luxembourg and Heraklion? Luxembourg is both a womens and mens competition. The other two are not.

    I guess at least with regards to Luxembourg it was dropped for both the men and the women. Did this happen at the same time for both? As is the reserved right (clause 16 of the published selection policy) the selectors can do so without stating too much detail other than saying it suits the individual weapon development strategy with no further explanation. Was any specific reason given at the time for the reduction?

    This is interesting (to me anyway) because I had been pondering a thought experiment.

    What if this announcement on the 11th hadn't made reference to "athlete depth". We (or I am at least) struggling to find a definition of "athlete depth" that was pre-announced or known in some way. because without pre-announcement everything I have looked at can't rule out with certainty there was no gender discrimination of some sort. So in my experiment I say lets get rid of "athlete depth"

    The annoucement on the 11th Oct would read something like. "Following a review the Junior Mens Epee it has decided to extend the number of athletes selected to 12 to suit the individual weapon development strategy "

    This seems to follow the reserved right (Clause 16)

    I think in the vernacular "individual weapon" means one male and one female. Can anyone point me at a definition somewhere? I had a quick look in the selection document and a bit wider afield.

    I am a little confused because the selection policy seems to have some clauses that are equally applied to both genders but some that are not. Is clause 16 just one of these that is not applied equally to both genders? Or it's application just somehow open to interpretation and the vagueness.

    I do appreciate the responses. I have also been pondering when silence becomes shame on a personal level. I am sure I have made plenty of errors on this thread and others so any feedback is welcome. I may not agree with the comments or come back with other thinking but its not a case of silence so I really appreciate it. Where I am wrong I would rather have someone try to explain it to me.

    To wrap this one up. For some reason I can't get rid of a song in my mind. Jax Jones - Instruction ft. Demi Lovato, Stefflon Don. I won't add the video. (I think there is another thread out there with a clip featuring Tom Cruise. The video wasn't appreciated by all parties)

    The song is worth listening or just read the lyrics.

    All my ladies
    Wind to the left, sway to the right
    Drop it down low and take it back high
    I don't need introduction
    Follow my simple instruction
    (Probably inappropriate on many many levels)

    There is a different thread out there that talks about making fencing events more appealing. I always think a bit of music is great (yeah yeah public performance license ...). If anyone hears this song at a fencing event please let me know (DM is fine). And if I hear it I be giving my daughter, wife or mum a big hug. Because for me this is celebrating "women in fencing".

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